‘The Big News Sites Still Rule’

Bob Lefsetz’s harsh take on Recode:

They couldn’t make it on their own.

Walt Mossberg, one of America’s two most famous tech columnists, shot himself in the foot. He left the “Wall Street Journal.” They’re finding out in news what we already know in music, you can go it alone, the internet allows you to do this, but in a chaotic world he with the established presence wins, the major record labels figured out the internet and the big news sites still rule.

I don’t agree with Lefzetz entirely, but he makes some good points.

My take is that if you’re going to go indie, you need to stay lean and mean. You don’t have to stay as lean and mean as I have — I have no employees, and to date, no one else has ever written a word for Daring Fireball. In fact, a one-person show might be too lean to get off the ground today. But then again, there’s Ben Thompson and Stratechery.

The tidbit that stood out to me regarding Recode is that they had 44 full-time employees — plus a few contractors. That’s not lean and mean. The advantage the internet provides to new publishers is that there’s so little overhead. You can go really far with a really small talented team. 44 employees sounds like Recode was trying to go head-to-head with the Wall Street Journal on the business/tech beat. Rather than start small and grow big organically, they wanted to start big. And so to start big they took on investors, and next thing you know, they had to sell.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

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